As I teach young learners for quite long time, I have come across with some who are chronically depressed about their lives, finding no meanings, no motivation, no pleasures at all. Their common phrases would be, "I can't do it. " "I don't know." "I am tired." "I am sleepy." "Sorry." They don't destruct other students by being noisy, nasty or naughty. They just sit on the corner of the classroom with emotionless faces. I can't feel any energy from them. They don't react any cheekiness from their teacher, either. They come and go without participating. Is this person familiar to you?
It has been tough to understand what in the world is going on in their minds because I have never been a child like them. I was physically weak but very very cheeky inside. I often imagined something really naughty to do or say in class and entertained other kids by telling the ideas during breaks. My classmates usually love my ideas and we all laughed together. Being funny was my way to connect with others. Otherwise I would be a loser and the best target for bullies for my chubby looks and sluggish way of speaking. Being funny and cheeky was my best protection in my childhood. So, sitting spiritlessly like a zombi in the classroom was never occurred to me. The bullies would have killed me spiritually if I did so.
Those zombified kids for some reasons are not slow learners or chubby like I was. In fact most of them are bright and good-looking to me. And perhaps they might be considered as "good" kids for they are quiet and most of the time do what I ask to do. I just can't feel the vigorous spirits that most kids possess which bother me so much and need to know the causes. In spite of my strong interest or concern towards those zombified ones, they won't usually open their mouths unless I managed to build a rapport with them somehow. It has been fifty-fifty whether I can build rapport or not. If parents allow me to let me be with them for a while, I have more chances to get to know them but if I have only a few months,
I am useless.
In my long career, I met a few kids of this kind who courageously opened their hearts to me and talked about their issues. Those were very very emotional moments and I salute them for their courage to open up and share their vulnerability with someone like me who share only an hour a week with them. From what I heard from them, I got a hypothesis that they have enormously high expectation for their lives and so their parents are and they are extremely goal-oriented. They have tendency to ignore all the pleasure of learning which lies in the learning process. No matter what outcome is if the process is worth participating, you will try again even at the face of big failure or setback. The kind of perseverance or "faith" in your potential is needed for them. They are perfectionist and feel constantly disappointed with their skills and talent because of the sky high expectations. When this persons meet other perfectionist in their family, things intensified and every learning opportunity become a test or a judgement of his/ her talent. Eventually they stop trying and go for safe way, which is not bad at all. I don't mean to criticize anyone's life style but if this perfectionism leads some kids chronically depressed or kills their natural curiosity, I can't sit around and let it go. I would like to do something with them because they are part of the wonderful world we live in. They can take part in as who they are in this strange world with full of unique creatures including humans. And the truth is I've never met anyone perfect so far. There might be some but I've never net them yet and according to my wise grandma, there is none.
This kind of zombified people due to the perfectionism is defined as "fixed mindset" and the other who have more faith in their potentiality is "growth mindset", according to Dweck. She asserts that such mindsets come from what authorities (parents and teachers) say to them in their childhood when they are still so vulnerable to their words.
This is my topic for my Methodology assignment. I would like to examine myself as a teacher/ mum so that I won't at least hurt any children. I am aware of my limitation. I am aware that there is little tiny bit of time I can share with my kids. But within the precious time, I hope I can help them to see their amazing potential and amazingly bright and positive future not in the mere opportunistic way or idealistic way. I would like them to see their potential in the more realistic way via eliciting their psychological strength, toughness and perseverance at the face of setbacks. I need to research more how I can possibly help them find all the quality they posses inside but I know I will if I don't give up.
It is quite funny that my grandpa gave me this beautiful name, Chiyuki. In chinese character, it means "Never give-up" I think my grandpa's only expectation for me was to be growth mindset and live this precious life in my own unique way. With his unconditional love and unjudgmental wish for my well-being, I become who I am in spite of more than few times of severe fights with fatal sicknesses.
Seligman asserts that there are 4 features to fulfill to flourish your life :
engagement at work
accomplishment / meaningful life
My hypothesis is that parents and teachers play key figures to cultivate the essential mindset for kids to realize well-being on their own in their adulthood.
Do you see the beauties and wonderful features of the world? Then we are on the same page :-)